ALBANY -- An attorney who had been based out of Albany has formally been disbarred by the Georgia Supreme Court.
Court documents released Monday stated that the State Bar of Georgia sought the disbarment of A. Lee Hayes in January after a client of his filed a grievance against him because he was unresponsive to her regarding the status of her case.
The Supreme Court's opinion states that Hayes admitted he was retained by the client in September 2007 to file action against her deceased husband's insurer for the insurer's refusal to pay proceeds from a life insurance policy. Hayes filed the action on June 11, 2008, although he told the client he filed it two months before that, the opinion goes on to say.
In July 2008, the defendant in the case filed a notice of removal, and the matter was moved to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. The defendant proceeded with discovery and took the client's deposition in January 2009, after which the court filed a motion for summary judgment the following March.
Hayes did not file any response to the motion, nor did he advise his client that it had been filed, the opinion further states.
"During 2008 Hayes had only minimal communication with his client, and when he spoke to her in March 2009 he did not tell her about the summary judgment motion; instead, he told her he was filing motions and would keep her advised of the status," the opinion states. "From June 2009 through April 2010 the client made unsuccessful efforts to contact Hayes and on the rare occasions when he spoke to her, Hayes told her only that he needed to check with the court about the status of her case."
The client was reportedly unable to schedule an appointment with Hayes to discuss her case, and from June through September 2010, the attorney refused to return her calls. The client eventually contacted another attorney, who learned that the opposing party's motion for summary judgment had been granted.
Hayes had been on suspension for failure to pay bar dues. He did not respond to an investigative panel and failed to file a notice of rejection after he had been served with a notice of discipline, according to court documents.
The decision to disbar Hayes was reached unanimously by the justices of the Supreme Court.
Attempts to seek comment from Hayes through two different telephone listings resulted in the discovery of them both having been disconnected.